Tom grew up in Mt. Wolf, a small south central Pennsylvania town where he still lives in the house he was brought home to from the hospital. Tom graduated from Dartmouth College (BA), the University of London (MA) and M.I.T. (PhD). During his studies, Tom joined the Peace Corps where he worked on agricultural and irrigation projects for two years in a small rural village in India.
* All bios derived from candidates' websites.
From the moment I took office, I have called for an increase in the minimum wage. My 2018-2019 budget proposal calls for an increase to $12 an hour from the current $7.25. This increase will put more money in the pockets of hardworking Pennsylvanians and would save an estimated $100 million in social and human services costs. In 2016, I signed an executive order to raise the minimum wage to $10.15 an hour for all employees under my jurisdiction and for employees of organizations that negotiate state contracts or that lease property to the commonwealth. I also recently announced a proposal to modernize Pennsylvania's outdated overtime rules, which will increase the pay of nearly half-a-million people and ensure that they are compensated fairly for their hard work. I will continue to fight for modernizations such as these to ensure that all Pennsylvanians are compensated fairly for their hard work.
I believe that the science of climate change and global warming is settled and that humans are the principal cause. Pennsylvania, as a major energy provider, must continue to reduce pollution through market decisions in the power sector, increased reliance on clean energy and improved energy efficiency, and improved oversight of emissions of potent greenhouse gases such as methane. During my time in office, Pennsylvania has made progress combating climate change: we have decreased Pennsylvania's carbon emissions by 30% over the past decade, but we know there is more work to do. My administration is actively working to increase energy produced from clean sources, to support energy efficiency gains wherever we can, and to implement new rules which will reduce methane emissions from natural gas infrastructure.
Regarding gun laws, what generally do you support from the choices below?
Candidate provided only a written response.
It is well past time to stop tiptoeing around the issue of gun safety and take decisive action so we can keep people, especially our children, protected. The federal government needs to ban weapons of war, like AR-15s, close loopholes in background check systems, and stop people on the no-fly list from obtaining firearms. At the state level, we need to stop domestic abusers from having or obtaining guns, close background check loopholes, ban bump stocks, and give schools the resources they need to hire trained security guards. I recently launched a school safety task force to ensure we are doing everything we can to make sure that our schools are safe place for our children to learn. Harrisburg can help schools be safer by providing them with the resources they need to hire trained security guards and school counselors.
In 2016, I signed a bipartisan bill to legalize medical marijuana in Pennsylvania. This program ensures that patients with serious medical conditions can finally find relief from their symptoms through medical marijuana. My administration is in the process of opening dispensaries across the commonwealth. We have approved eight grower/processors to begin operations and we have over 10,000 patients and over 1,000 certified physicians registered to participate. I look forward to continuing to see all of the positive benefits this program will have for the people of Pennsylvania.
I support decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana because we should not focus on incarcerating people for possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Should the drawing of district lines be done by an independent system instead of state legislators?
We must eliminate partisan politics from the legislative redistricting process. That is why I’ve called for legislation to end gerrymandering by establishing an independent, bipartisan commission to create future electoral maps. I have also supported efforts to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to create a fair redistricting system in the commonwealth. I have been at the forefront of the battle to secure a fair congressional map for Pennsylvania. I supported the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's ruling that Pennsylvania's congressional map, which was drawn by Republicans in 2011, was unconstitutionally gerrymandered. I then rejected an equally gerrymandered map that was presented to me by Republican legislative leaders, which ultimately led to the state Supreme Court drawing its own, fair maps. This is a huge victory for democracy in Pennsylvania, and we must have continued voting reform to ensure fair and free elections for all.
Were you (or would you have been) in support of the 2016 legislation regulating opioids in Pennsylvania (Act 122, Act 124, Act 125, Act 126)?
I signed all four of these Acts into law in November of 2016. These laws are a critical step forward in combating the statewide opioid epidemic, an issue which has been a top priority throughout the course of my administration.
Earlier this year, I declared the heroin and opioid epidemic a statewide disaster emergency. Through this declaration, we have enhanced coordination and data collection to bolster both state and local response through the establishment of an Opioid Command Center and expanded access to the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. Under my administration, in partnership with medical professionals, we have developed voluntary prescribing guidelines specific to practice areas and, with the reboot of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, we have finally begun to see a decline in the number of opioid prescriptions.
I’ve issued a standing order for the overdose-reversing antidote naloxone and ensured that law enforcement, first responders, and schools are equipped with naloxone, which has reversed over 8,603 overdoses since 2014. I’ve also expanded Medicaid, giving over 720,000 Pennsylvanians access to health care, including over 120,000 individuals with a substance use disorder.
I remain committed to using every resource at my disposal to help those suffering from substance use disorders find treatment, to save more lives, and to improve response coordination.
From the choices below, what best represents your view on the wages men and women are paid?
Despite our half-century old equal pay law, women make only 79 cents for every dollar men make. Wage discrimination has real consequences, making it harder for women to buy homes, pay for college, and care for their families, and it robs our economy of billions of dollars. That’s why I took matters into my own hands and signed an executive order that will work to ensure that all state workers are paid equitably.
Under my executive order, state agencies will no longer ask job applicants their salary history during the hiring process, base salaries on job responsibilities, position pay range, and the applicant’s job knowledge and skills, and clearly explain the pay range on job postings. I’ve also called on the legislature to pass similar protections for all working women in Pennsylvania.
I’ve also advocated for a raise in the minimum wage, and I recently proposed long overdue modernizations to Pennsylvania’s overtime pay rules, which will increase the pay of nearly half-a-million people and ensure they are compensated fairly for their hard work.
Regarding Pennsylvania pensions, were you (or would you have been) in favor of the 2017 Senate Bill 1 that introduces a 401K-style component into pension benefits for new hires after 2019?
I signed comprehensive, bipartisan pension reform which shifts unnecessary risk away from taxpayers and will save over $10 billion on PA’s unfunded pension liability. This new plan also includes a 401K-style benefit for employees, if that is their preference.
From the choices below, what best represents your view on abortion?
I am an ardent supporter of protecting the rights of all women to make their own health care decisions and to access quality and affordable health care, including reproductive health care. I vetoed Senate Bill 3, the most anti-choice bill in the country which aimed to criminalize abortion and bans abortions after twenty weeks, leaving no exceptions for rape, incest, or tragic fetal anomalies. I am similarly committed to stopping Senate Bill 300, which would defund Planned Parenthood, from becoming law, and I will stand firmly opposed to Harrisburg Republicans’ proposed six week abortion ban. I’ve also spoken out against the Trump administration’s gag rule, which would cut women off from critical health care services like birth control, cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, and even general women’s health exams.